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Coalition Requests Belmont Public Hearing to ZBA on O'Neill Changes as possibly "significant"
added to website October 4, 2010

Public Hearing Request/Substantial Changes are Unknown
Coalition to Protect Belmont Uplands and Winn Brook Neighborhood

I am Gerard Natoli, President of the Coalition to Preserve the Belmont Uplands, asked by Coalition and legal advisors to request that the ZBA Board, provide a public hearing at future date with regular notice of the public hearing. Concerned homeowners have a legal right to speak at a public hearing based on the underlying legal obligation of this Board to hold a public hearing on the original permit application. If the permit can be amended without opportunity for them to be heard, then the hearing process is rendered meaningless, as we are being denied a true hearing, because there was only a hearing on part, but not all, of the case. If the part of the case that you consider tonight is considered without opportunity for a public hearing, not only is the public denied a right to a meaningful hearing, the Town and this Board will lose the benefit of independent comments from homeowners, and the Board will be getting less information instead of more information with respect to this most important stage of public deliberations.

Moreover, the developer has only submitted a few of the proposed changes, namely a change in the number of family members per unit and changes in drainage. Homeowners certainly have an interest in commenting on whether these changes are or are not insignificant.

Further, the developer has not brought to you the likely changes in the sewer and stormwater connections which are completely unknown at this time. As you recall, your decision included as Condition 27 (b) that the developer “make a good faith application to the City of Cambridge for a connection to the Cambridge municipal wastewater system.” We understand that O’Neill belatedly is attempting to get such approval, but Cambridge officials advise that there still are many unresolved issues. Such approval could change the project significantly depending on the conditions Cambridge may impose on any approval. Therefore, it is premature for O’Neill to bring before the Board only some of the changes. All changes should be finalized before the Board is asked to determine whether they are “insignificant” or “significant.” The individual changes may by themselves not be significant, but the total package may well be significant requiring a hearing. What the developer is doing is called “segmentation,” a practice that the Courts have shot down in environmental review cases.

The Board should advise Glen Clancy to deny AP Partners II LLC a building permit until the water and sewer design issue of either Cambridge or Belmont is resolved. While under the Belmont comprehensive Permit, Belmont approved their water/sewer plan of holding tank, but the new plan includes a possible Cambridge permit with a very different design plan, and which the public and aggrieved abutters do not know about , and thus do not know the extent of the changes.